English Literature graduates gain an in-depth understanding of the written language and can analyse, interpret, edit and communicate to a high standard.

Through reading and analysing texts from different ages and cultures, English Literature students deepen their understanding of human nature and behaviour. They interpret and draw on the insights and ideas of writers and learn from the creative ways they use language to communicate their view of life. Graduates gain strong skills in written communication in a variety of formats and styles. They critique and edit the writing of others and develop an eye for detail that helps them analyse and interpret data.

Roles and career pathways

English Literature graduates work in a wide range of roles that often involve critical analysis, research and a high standard of written communication. Government ministries employ graduates in policy, stakeholder relations, communications in research analyst and advisory roles. First roles for graduates with undergraduate degrees may be in an administration or coordination role before progressing to an adviser or senior adviser in a policy team.

Those interested in moving into library or archive work often start out in library assistant roles before undertaking a postgraduate qualification in Information Studies to progress in library, information management or archive work. English Literature graduates also work as web content writers, editors, journalists and social media advisers. While a number of graduates work in publishing, content design and development, some are moving into roles in IT such as test analysts, data analysts, business development advisers and project coordinators. Postgraduate study or experience in UX (user experience design), web design or software development can be helpful.

Postgraduate study in English Literature such as an Honours or Master’s degree is helpful for a number of intermediate to senior policy and research roles or where specialised, in-depth analysis is important. Adding another subject such as Economics, Art History, Politics, Public Policy, Social Policy, Pacific or Māori Studies or completing a conjoint degree in Law or Commerce can help broaden employment options. Completing a postgraduate diploma in secondary teaching (limited entry) may lead to roles teaching English and at least one other subject at secondary level.

Where English Literature graduates work

English Literature graduates work across the private and public sectors. Recent graduates have worked in organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experience

Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop practical work place experience. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience.

Make career connections

Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career and networking opportunities.

NZ Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) and Booksellers NZ have regular events, including organising Writers and Readers Festivals and writing events. The Big Idea website is a useful resource for networking and finding out about roles in the creative industries. Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Wellington Young Professionals also offer various events and opportunities for networking and the Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students can also help enhance your connections and employability while studying.